Magazine publishing entrepreneur and executive Leonard Burnett was born on April 18, 1964 in Shaker Heights, Ohio. His family was involved in franchising, which sparked his interest in entrepreneurship. After attending the University of Michigan for two years, Burnett went on to Florida A&M University, where he received his B.B.A. degree in business, management and marketing in 1986.
Burnett went into business with his classmate, Keith Clinkscales, to launch his first magazine, Urban Profile, in 1987, to fill a void in the media market. In 1992, Burnett and Clinkscales sold Urban Profile to Career Communications and got involved in the creation of Vibe magazine. From 1993 to 1999, Burnett served as a publisher and advertising director for the magazine. In 1999, he co-founded Vanguarde Media Group with Clinkscales. Burnett served as vice president and group publisher with Vanguarde and helped launch three successful urban magazines: Savoy, Honey, and Heart & Soul. In 2004, Burnett co-founded Uptown Media Group, or Uptown Ventures, publisher of Uptown magazine, where he served as the chief executive. The following year he helped Vibe magazine launch Vibe: Vixen. After Vibe reopened under new ownership in 2009, he served as the group publisher for the magazine until 2012.
In 2010, Burnett co-authored Black is the New Green: Marketing to Affluent African Americans. In 2013, he founded U Brands after re-purchasing Uptown magazine from InterMedia Partners and acquired Worldwide Electronic Publishing, the publisher of Hype Hair magazine. Burnett has successfully expanded the Uptown brand and reached underserved communities. He also has spoken at the ADCOLOR Awards and is considered an expert of African American buying power, brand-building, and marketing to both urban and affluent African American communities.
Burnett lives in New York City and has two children, Lenny Burnett III and Rani Burnett.
Leonard Burnett was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 10, 2014.